• Survey finds only one crisis team for mental health patients is meeting national standards
  • It has led to calls to introduce the four hour acute target for mental health patients set out by Lord Crisp in 2016
  • The Royal College of Psychiatrists also said some of the new cash for the NHS must be used to prioritise community mental health services

Only one mental health crisis team in the country is meeting all the national staffing and access standards, according to a new study.

The national crisis resolution team survey found that only one of more than 180 adult crisis resolution teams were meeting the Department of Health and Social Care’s mental health policy implementation guide for community mental health teams on staffing and access.

It also found:

  • Fewer than half the CRTs would accept referrals directly from patients or their families without them having been referred from a GP or already known to services;
  • 45 per cent of adult teams and 64 per cent of children and young people teams set a four hour target to commence an assessment; and
  • Only 17 out of 180 met all the staffing requirements and only one-in-six met all the access standards.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists’ general adult faculty chairman Lenny Cornwall said NHS England must invest in community mental health teams and make it a national priority.

He called for NHS England to introduce the four hour admission and home treatment target set out by Lord Crisp in his 2016 report.

Dr Cornwall added: “As a first step, we need NHS England to introduce that target and measure and report on how well services meet it.

“Crisis teams are under pressure because resources have been diverted from core community mental health teams – the teams which prevent people getting into crisis.”

NHS England has set up a national team focusing on community mental health pathway. HSJ understands the national commissioning body is also looking at caseload sizes and response times for CRTs.

The survey was published in May and carried out by a team led by Brynmor Lloyd-Evans, senior lecturer in mental health and social care at University College London.

Dr Lloyd-Evans told HSJ a new four hour target was needed, and added: “The problems have always been there. The story is they have never quite been fully set up and implemented as planned.

“I think that guidance has really stood the test of time, it was based on really good models of care.

“What people want a good crisis team to look like is still what that model spells out.”

An NHS England spokesman said that since the survey was carried out in 2016 there had been £400m invested in improving services.

He added: “NHS England is rebuilding mental health crisis teams after years of underinvestment. Since 2016 when this survey was carried out, services have been improving as part of a £400m investment programme which will give people in every part of the country access to these crucial services.”